Serpentine Conviction

Well, I was looking through my old files, as I presently lack a job, and I found an old short story I must’ve written many years ago, as I completely forgot about it.  I’d equate it to finding a dollar bill in a jacket you wore in middle school: not quite overwhelming in value, but a pleasant surprise nevertheless.  I don’t know what I was thinking at the time.

With a story that was once infamous, then famous, then legendary, that of the magical fortitude of one Failbert Vernlimtiltar has since become nothing less than mythical.  Failbert, the child of two poor uranium farmers from Missappippi was among the first men of his time to use light to illuminate the inner spaces of corpses for uses unknown but important regardless.  Perhaps better remembered, however, Failbert also has the honor of being the only vertebrate to have rolled down a flight of stairs without lifting his head or exposing his belly.

That’s right: Failbert Vernlimtiltar was The First Human Snake.  He had plenty of fame in the late 10s, right about the time Robert Leroy Ripley’s cartoon of questional believability had gained true notoriety (I believe that they were, at that time, negotiating for one Jack Palance to narrate their forthcoming televisionshow).  Nevertheless, that level of infamy wasn’t enough for Failbert.

The bloke was so consumed with becoming a snake that he took it to himself to invent a method of delivering venom through his teeth as a snake would, and after some exhaustive work in a local laboratory (he worked as a janitor there on weekends and had knowledge of the security camera schedules), he had the prototype and installed it into the roof of his mouth.  The process of installation, as pain historians note, is truly baffling.  He bore two holes through the top palate of his mouth, above his gums and, with two fiber optic-sized tubes, drilled and threaded them to the surfaces of his already-sharp incisors.  There was, of course, a catch: he had to store a thin bag of venom on the tender roof of his mouth to feed the tubes and, of course, any victuals ingested would be done so containing that poison.

Well, Failbert whiled his days away swallowing his food whole, careful not to close his mouth ever, for fear of the creation of a vacuum, and eventually his stomach, so overworked in trying to digest through bone and fiber alike, ate through itself and forced his entire thoracic cavity to act, in a sense, as the stomach.  Without the proper tools for digestion – bile, a connection to the intestines being two among them – Failbert’s Swallowed could only collect in his abdomen, and his belly came to expand widthwise.  Meanwhile, he was gaining an even greater fame around town for his unique qualities (among humans, anyway), and the press was a common fixture for breaking bread with the beast.

Unfortunately, we all know that snakes don’t exactly contain great girth except for mid-digestion, and the police came to be alerted when Failbert’s next-door neighbor, Biltoo Effergy, reported the loss of her small terrier, whose name must go undisclosed for legal purposes.  At the arrival of a Newsday reporter, Failbert’s gut just happened to measure the width of a common silky, and eyebrows were raised.  Failbert, so much in pain and unable to pronounce the letters B, D, F, G, H, J, especially L, M, N, P, T, V, and W, was hardly able to defend the absurd claim, and he was thrown into jail, with an x-ray scheduled to clear the undigested air before things became out of hand.

Already were motion picture deals proposed, as townschildren would dare their peers to step foot onto the haunted Vernnlimtiltar Stoop.  Wasting away in prison, unable to eat, his body constantly trying to chuck out its bulky contents in vain, Failbert’s mind came accustomed to pain and pain alone.  He became quite distempered and vengeful.

On one sad and ironic day, that being February 23rd, 1931, multiple things occurred: the Effergy Canine returned home after her owner left the gate open clumsily, and Failbert cemented his Halloween-worthy reputation as, even more ironically, a real reptile.  He took it upon himself, after lights were turned out, to finally sink those lonely fangs into his sleeping cellmate, emptying his mouth-roof’s contents into the fellow’s cheek.  The poison slithered its way through the victim’s veins with great expedience, and in no time, the man – whose identity, as a vagrant of many years, is presently unknown or undisclosed – found the skin of his body transformed into a giant bruise just beneath the surface.  As he died, rumour says, his final words were a muffled, whispery “that’s maybe the fucking coolest…”, as he succumbed to the bad luck of his cell assignment.  Meanwhile, the delirious Failbert, who wasn’t at all concerned with the guards yet still felt the need to dispose of the body, had no choice but to try to eat it.  Yes, he tried to eat it.  He failed, but he tried to eat an entire human, and herein lays the nature of the beast: he was quite rash but very stupid.  Anyway, the morning came and with it universal disgust, as Failbert was discovered prostrate on a semi-inverted corpse, its stomach devoured and sunken, the carnivore’s face smeared with an inky sort of blood, dead as his bed.  Reportedly, all he could do in response and explanation was lick his lips.

Since, Failbert’s presence has been retracted from their Guinness’ records and his story has spawned only three separate film franchises, but his memory lurks in all of us and will continue to do so, lurching and prying, until the next SNAKE MAN!

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~ by nearhelsinki on February 5, 2010.

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